Out here in southern California we’ve experienced an El Nino winter. Good for us because we really needed some rain and wetness to quench the thirst of our drought-parched state. You can see a short video we made with Rick riding to work in the rain. Each of us had a different winter experience, but all of us are definitely excited for the advent of Spring and riding season. Many of you, if you’re like us, simply want to jump on your Wing and go. Of course, being the responsible rider that we know you all are, you want to make sure your bike is ride-ready, which is why we’re providing you with 10 Steps to get your Goldwing ready for riding season!
Step One: Dust Off Your Manual
It never hurts to get reacquainted with your Service Manual. There may be a thing or two that you forget to address when getting your Wing spruced up for Spring. Nobody’s perfect. Heck, we might have even left something out of this step-by-step process. More importantly, we can provide you with a brief list of pointers, but your manual will have all the specifics you need to help keep your beloved Goldwing in tip-top shape!
So before moving on to the next step, take a minute, dust it off and flip through it. Did your manual grow legs and walk off? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back! And for the more visually inclined we also have some great informational DVDs available.
Quick Tip: If you’ve been riding around in a car all winter you may need to switch over to a motorcycle mindset. Take it easy on your inaugural trip and try to be more aware of your surroundings as there is always a chance your motorcycle riding skills need some defrosting!
Step Two: Recharge the Battery
The single most common roadblock to getting your Wing on the road for riding season is probably going to be a drained or damaged battery. The biting cold can be a killer for your Wing’s battery. First, check its condition. Are the terminals clean? Are the connections secure? If everything looks good then check to see how much power it still has.
Whenever a battery looses all it’s juice the overall capacity becomes degraded. If that happens repeatedly it can quickly become a real headache. If you kept your battery on a trickle charge while stored for the winter then you should be good to go. If you didn’t, you can still get your hands on one and charge your battery to max capacity for your first ride.
We highly recommend the Battery Tender Jr. Smart Charger because it automatically turns off when your bike’s battery reaches full capacity. That way you can plug it in at the end of riding season and forget about it until next season. You will avoid “overcharging” which can damage the battery and, similar to draining it completely, can cause degradation.
If you have a lithium battery then make sure you get your hands on a lithium-specific charger such as Bikemaster’s Lithium Ion Battery Charger.
Lastly, if you attempt to charge your battery and nothing happens then most likely it’s time for a new one. Hopefully this doesn’t happen to you, but if it does you can easily purchase a new one from us. Just keep in mind that, because of shipping restrictions, we can only send batteries via ground transportation to the lower U.S. 48 states.
Quick Tip: Consider getting your hands on a new battery if the one you own is more than 4 years old.
Step Three: Refresh Your Fuel
It isn’t unusual for riders, in their excitement and eagerness to hit the road come springtime, to overlook stale gas. This is why we strongly suggest taking a look at your fuel and fuel system as one of the first steps. If you live somewhere that keeps your Wing stored indoors for the winter there’s a good chance the quality of the gasoline has deteriorated and can lead to problems. For example, your ride might not be as smooth as normal or the stagnant fuel has the potential to clog important components such as your fuel lines.
If you previously read our “Winter Is Coming” blog post then you may have added a fuel stabilizer as you prepped your Wing for the cold months. Good for you! You should be good to go in this area. If not, we recommend that you drain your tank of remaining gas, check for rust or corrosion inside the tank, and fill it up with fresh gas. Nobody wants old brown fuel running through their bike’s system. Gross.
Step Four: Change Your Fluids & Filters
Again, if you checked out our Winter blog then you might have already done this at the end of riding season. If not, you’ll want to make sure you do so before you take your bike on the road. The oil that is left in your bike will likely have contaminants, pollutants and condensation that can lead to engine corrosion. In the same way, the oil and air filters will be in need of replacing. If this is your first time changing the oil and filter, be sure to whip out your Service Manual for the exact procedure.
Additionally, double check your break fluid and coolant. Look for leaks on the floor where your Goldwing has been stored or on the bike itself, check for any cracks in the hoses and top the fluids off or change them if they have gone bad during the winter (or if you can’t remember the last time they were replaced).
Quick Tip: To prevent little critters from nesting in your air intakes and causing havoc during the cold winter months, you can get a pair of intake screens. They will also help keep debris from sneaking into the air intake and lowering peak performance.
Step Five: Don’t Forget About Those Often-Neglected Areas
Like they say, the devil is in the details. Inevitably, there tends to be those little areas that we unintentionally forget about. We don’t mean to neglect them, honest. We get caught up on the big-ticket, “Usual Suspects” like brakes, lights and tires (More on that in Steps Six and Seven Below).
In this step we’re talking about all the little things you normally wouldn’t check during riding season. Take a look at the grommets on your side covers that tend to dry out, causing the side cover to fall out. Check the valve stems and the clip that holds them in place at high speed. Are they in good shape? Are the clips missing? It happens from time to time.
While you’re at it, give your frame a once over. Look for any cracks or dents which can be problematic. Are your forks and shocks adjusted correctly? Things like that.
Step Six: Inspect the Usual Suspects
Being able to stop your bike safely and effectively is as equally important as any other aspect of your riding experience. Before you leave your driveway, give your brake components a good once-over to see how much life is left in them. Now would be a great time to reference your Service Manual for any specifics that you may need to know. If they’re looking pretty worn down, don’t hesitate to get fresh ones.
Now go through all your lights and make sure they work. Turn your Wing on (now that the battery is juiced up) and look over each of them for burnt out bulbs that need replacing, blown fuses and possible faulty wiring.
Your spark plugs should be in the same condition as you left it at the end of the last
riding season. If you forgot to check it, you definitely want to do so now. When in doubt, it’s not a bad idea to change them out as they’re not a very expensive item to replace. And you’d much rather do it now than mid-adventure. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Quick Tip: If you’re not the handy type or don’t feel comfortable adjusting or replacing parts of your bike (especially brakes) it’s okay, don’t hesitate to ask a professional to do it.
Step Seven: Show Your Tires Some TLC
Your tires are the only thing that separate you from the road. And when you’re riding at speed, you bet you want those bad boys in prime condition. So we always want to pay special attention to them, right? While it’s a good idea to check your tires before each ride, if you didn’t survey them at the end of last riding season, it’s crucial that you do so before you on your Wing.
Excessive wear can lead to punctures incurring more easily and a lesser chance to keep proper traction. So inspect each tire completely for cracking, punctures or wear.
After three or four long winter months, you will want to be aware of possible flat-spotting from the bike sitting for long periods of time. Even if they’re in great condition you’ll want to adjust tire pressure to the correct specs since air will have surely snuck out after months of non-use. Ideally, this is the best time for replacement because then you will have quality tires for the duration of riding season.
Quick Tip: Use the old Abe Lincoln trick to determine if it’s time for your tire to “hit the road”: Grab a penny and put it in the tire tread with Lincoln’s head facing down. If you are able to see the top of Honest Abe’s noggin then it’s time for a new tire.
Step Eight: Look Over Your Gear
Your riding gear has most likely been hiding away in some dark closet or in your garage during the winter. It’s a good idea to make sure there isn’t anything wrong that you might not have noticed before. Check all your gear - especially your helmet - for any damage. It’s all about safety which is why it’s so important to keep all our gear in prime condition. If you treat it with care then it should last you a long time. But as the years pass by, gloves, boots and other items tend to wear down and eventually need to be replaced. So why not take inventory before riding season begins?
Have you owned your helmet around 5 years? Glues, resins and other materials used to make a helmet typically start to break down then. If you notice it becoming loose or parts of the lining coming out or if you’ve experienced little black flakes in your hair after wearing it, then it’s probably time to send it out to pasture and get a new one whether it’s been five years or not.
Quick Tip: To help prolong the life of your helmet, make sure you keep it in a cool, dry area and leave it inside the helmet bag. You can also make it last longer by wearing a helmet liner, balaclava or scarf to keep the sweat off.
Step Nine: Make Your Wing Shine!
This probably goes without saying, but once you get everything else dialed in and before
you and your Wing hit the pavement, make sure you give it a nice wash and wax so that it looks as good as it runs. Plus it will help protect your bike from potential sun and road damage.
And don’t forget to make your chrome shine like your lucky silver dollar!
Step Ten: Ride Safe & Enjoy!
Okay, you’ve done everything to get your ride ready for the open road. There’s fresh fuel in the tank, your battery is charged, your Wing is clean and you’re ready to go!
Quick Tip: Update your “Wingsurance”: Double check to make sure nothing needs to be amended or updated on your policy. Some motorcycle insurance providers offer discounts for the winter months when your Wing is not in use. Give them a call and find out!
Now all that’s left is to get out there, make some memories and have the time of your life. See you on the road!